The first 70: Approach to Dicks Creek Gap
Well it finally happened. With the tremendous amount of help from my stepdad and family I packed and moved my belongings from my apartment in South South Alabama to where my family lives in Lynchburg, VA. After a week at home visiting and basically being a sloth in true grown up fashion I got my mom to take me to Gerorgia to get on the trail. We stayed the night at the lodge and then after a breakfast and signing in I was ready to bid my old routine a due.
And it begins
I will gladly admit that I got a hitch, my kinda nervous and anxious mom, to the parking lot at the top of the stairs where the approach trail starts. I don’t regret not taking the stairs at all I have done them before and for me they added nothing to the experience of the hike. After I signed in I went to the top of the stairs to set off to Springer. When I set off to the approach trail there was an 80% chance of rain. Well spoiler alert it didn’t rain at all and I was pretty happy I didn’t have to start my hike in the pouring rain. My first rest break going up the approach trail I met another thru hiker that signed in right before me. As the universe would plan it he was also an engineer and from PA. Even through he was carrying a pack that weighed 10# less than mine we have hiked together the first week and plan to for another week as of now. It was good to find someone with a similar sense of humor. Yes all engineers have the same sense of humor it’s a fact.(All negating comments can be posted below)
I made it to Springer around lunch time and decided to push on to Stover Creek Shelter to get a few extra miles in and avoid any crowded camping at Springer Mountain.
First night:Stover Creek Shelter
I arrived at Stover Creek shelter and set up camp for the night after stopping briefly to rest my feet and talk with the people already at the shelter. I set my hammock up for the next night and then survey the area for other hikers setups. Honestly after some of they things I saw if anyone ask so me if they should hammock or tent gonna say tent. Not because I want a tent but because I want you to enjoy your first week and waking up with a home made shower curtain tarp laying on your face can’t be enjoyable. I cooked dinner and set in for a calm night.
Second day: Hike to Gooch Mountain Shelter
My second day consisted of a 13 mile hike to Gooch Mountain shelter. There was a storm rolling in and by my count there were 40 people camping at the shelter so I set my hammock up to try and hunker in for the night . This was a difficult hang to say the least I had to set up perpendicular to the hill. Even after I thought the hammock was setup ok I ended up setting the head end way to high. This isnt preferred since I have to reach the top top to undo my big net that slides over my hammock. The next morning I found it was so askew that my watch placed on the ridge line would slide towards the head side. On top of this my tarp wasn’t set up great due to user error. Later that night the storm arrived I thought I was set up and ready for it. The AT laughed at me. At about 12 I noticed, via rain spraying me in the face all over my down that one of my tarp corners was on the loose. This moment iniated a Chinese fire drill of how fast I could get out of my hammock, now pitched on a hill in the wrong direction and keep my heat from getting further saturated. I made it out of my hammock and re set the tarp steak. That lasted a while but yet again one of the steaks pulled out. This midnight walk in the rain I was able to find rocks to put on top of the stakes. This worked like magic then and has worked since in even higher winds. Magic rocks, free on the AT. Thought of quitting walking around in the rain looking for rocks, not in rain gear, zero.
Day 3: Push to Neels Gap
Despite my estimated 30 minutes of sleep due to my paranoid stake watch most of the night my hiking partner and I decided to hike a longer 16 mile day into Neels Gap to get some food and stay for the night at blood mtn cabins . To our disappointment we got there at 5:15 and the cabins close at 5. We settled on eating a frozen pizza and staying at Neels Gap. We took a shower and put our dirty clothes back on and turned in for the night.
Day 4: Neel Gap to Low Gap
Had an 11ish mile hike to low Gap and camped just outside of the shelter besides teaching a member of our hiking party to set up his. We hammock tarp the night was calm and nice.
Day 5: Low Gap to Blue Mountain shelter
We went to blue mountain shelter and prepared to weather the “storm” others were talking about. I’m happy to report that while I got little sleep due to the noise of the storm I didn’t loose a single stake or get any gear wet. Learning every day.
Day 6: On to Dicks Creek Gap
On day 6 we went and camped a few miles before Dicks Creek Gap. While the rain held off the wind howled all night. I was concerned about my tarp setup but luckily I had service and google has everything. I found a picture of where a highly skilled hammocker had setup my tarp and realize my tarp corner stake angle was not optimal. Once I fixed this everything went great that night and I learned even more about setting my tarp up. We are now in Hiawasse talking a Nero and heading out tomorrow to start out journey to Franklin. Thanks for reading. Leave any comments below but be warned replies are limited because well I live in the woods most is the time now.
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Glad you’re getting to live out a dream. Most just dream it and don’t live it. Glad to see you’re keeping a great attitude about learning as you go too! Good luck
Glad to hear that you are getting your hammock setup down to a science. Keep up the good work.
You look super happy in the photos. I had a big smile on my face reading about your first week. Keep having a blast! It’s inspirational. Gonna have to head into the woods myself!